As someone who hopes to share what I believe about Jesus by “making a case” (using an “apologetic” approach to the evidence), I’ve come to appreciate the role that leadership plays in the process. We’ll never lead anyone to the truth unless we learn how to become good leaders, and leaders possess three important attributes many of us fail to consider when thinking about how we share what we believe with our friends and family:
Leaders have vision. It’s a necessity; you can’t call yourself a leader if you don’t have a vision about where you are trying to go. Leaders have a destination in mind and a plan on how to get there. People who possess this combination (destination and plan) invariably draw others into their journey. When you engage your friends and family in an effort to share what you believe about Jesus, do you have a plan for your conversations? Do you have a realistic goal in mind and a modest plan that will get you there? Sometimes we spend years with our unbelieving loved ones without any intentional evangelistic strategy. Don’t be surprised to end up where you started if you don’t have a firm idea of where you’d like to go and how you’d like to get there. Start to envision a plan for reach those you love.
Leaders understand their audience. They “throw the ball” so that others can “catch it”. Leaders need to be out front, but you can’t lead folks through the woods if you’re too far ahead of them on the trail; we need to stay close enough to be seen on the path. In a similar way, we need to think about proximity when we are sharing evidences as Christian Case Makers. Remember, while you and I may have examined all the evidence and mastered the arguments, most of our non-believing friends haven’t yet started to investigate some of these claims. We’re not talking to folks with Ph.D.’s in philosophy or cosmology. If we’re going to provide evidence from the cosmological argument, for example, we’ve got to remember to “stay close” to our audience. Keep it simple; keep it real. Think about proximity.
Leaders are transparent. They’re not afraid to show people who they really are. When we get the chance to “see behind the veil” of someone leading us, we begin to acknowledge their humanity and see ourselves in them. That’s encouraging because we start to think, “She (or he) is just like me. If she (or he) can understand this, I can understand it too.” Transparency helps leaders encourage their followers to start the journey. If you’re a Christian Case Maker, it’s easy to get caught up in the knowledge you’ve attained from all the apologetics resources you’ve devoured over the years. As a result, it’s hard for some of us to admit that we might not have all the answers. If that’s you, knock it off. The more you are willing to admit you’re just like everyone else, doing your best to sift through the evidence and still learning along the way, the more likely you are to reach those who are examining the evidence for the very first time. Remember who you really are and share your limits with others. You’re transparency will be appreciated.
Most of us acknowledge the happy burden of the Great Commission; we want to share the Gospel with our friends and family and lead them to Christ. But few of us have thought about the leadership characteristics that might be required for us to be successful. We can be a lot more fruitful in our efforts to share the truth if we can learn to approach the effort with a vision and a plan, tailor our message for the audience we are trying to reach, and share our weaknesses and uncertainties along the way.
J. Warner Wallace is a Dateline featured Cold-Case Detective, Senior Fellow at the Colson Center for Christian Worldview, Adj. Professor of Apologetics at Biola University, author of Cold-Case Christianity, God’s Crime Scene, and Forensic Faith, and creator of the Case Makers Academy for kids.
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